Definition of engulf in English:



  • 1(of a natural force) sweep over (something) so as to surround or cover it completely.

    ‘the cafe was engulfed in flames’
    figurative ‘Europe might be engulfed by war’
    • ‘This caused a catastrophic flood that engulfed the whole island.’
    • ‘Are these a coincidence, or has an evil force engulfed the town?’
    • ‘Teachers, students and parents stood behind yellow police tape and watched dumbfounded as their school was engulfed in amber flames.’
    • ‘The bus driver and two passengers fled from the bus seconds before it was engulfed in flames in St George's Road, last week.’
    • ‘Consider the unprecedented scenes of anarchy and chaos that engulfed Britain last Monday night.’
    • ‘When they arrived on the scene, the house was engulfed in flames with the blaze having spread to the upstairs area of the family home.’
    • ‘After failing to get to the girls, Waddington ran from her home screaming to the neighbours for help just before the house was completely engulfed in flames and smoke.’
    • ‘The rain stopped and the sun crept out, engulfing the whole garden with its pale gold afternoon light.’
    • ‘Pedestrians were stopped in their tracks and cars came to standstill as the huge blanket of smoke threatened to engulf the whole town.’
    • ‘The family's terrace house was quickly engulfed in flames.’
    • ‘In three minutes, the club was engulfed in flames.’
    • ‘He said by the time he arrived home, his entire house was engulfed in flames.’
    • ‘Its corridors were engulfed in choking smoke as the fire took hold.’
    • ‘All of a sudden the place was engulfed in massive red and yellow flames.’
    • ‘Within minutes, however, the entire city was engulfed in a torrent of rain - easily one of the heaviest in recent times.’
    • ‘When the police arrived 20 minutes later, the bus was still engulfed in flames, which hampered rescue efforts.’
    • ‘The place was already engulfed in flames when he and his roommate Jerome awoke.’
    • ‘However, the country was soon engulfed in a bloody civil war in which one million people lost their lives out of a population of 14 million.’
    • ‘Mr Swales said flames were coming out of the front door and the living room was engulfed in fire.’
    • ‘A woman was plucked from a car seconds before it was engulfed in flames.’
    inundate, flood, deluge, immerse, swamp, wash out, swallow up, submerge
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    1. 1.1 Eat or swallow (something) whole.
      ‘the toad can engulf nestling birds’
  • 2Powerfully affect (someone); overwhelm.

    ‘a feeling of anguish so great that it threatened to engulf him’
    • ‘My mind was sending too many thoughts, too many flashes and words, too much for me to take in, fatigue threatening to engulf me.’
    • ‘She would not allow herself to wallow in the misery that had been threatening to engulf her since his death.’
    • ‘The room was spinning probably due to lack of food and injury, closing her eyes to block out the sickness threatening to engulf her - it was hot in the room, really hot.’
    • ‘A deep, overwhelming wave of emotion engulfed me, and I felt tears well in my eyes.’
    • ‘Overwhelming relief and joy engulfed Jason upon seeing her and he took a step forward.’
    • ‘He recalled how just the sight of his daughter in the early years had brought his grief flooding to the surface where it had threatened to engulf him.’
    • ‘Rose went and sat down, as the memories threatened to engulf her.’
    • ‘Loren fought the feeling of helpless panic that threatened to engulf him.’
    • ‘As she opens her son's wardrobe a wave of emotion engulfs her and her expression becomes a mixture of love and anguish.’
    • ‘His infectious enthusiasm and energy engulfs players and supporters alike.’
    inundate, flood, deluge, immerse, swamp, wash out, swallow up, submerge
    View synonyms


Mid 16th century (formerly also as ingulf): from en-, in- ‘in, on’ + gulf.